Sadly, it’s no go Limato on Saturday, as Henry Candy decided to take no risks with regards to the ground.
Instead, his high class sprinter will head to America for the Breeders’ Cup, leaving Quiet Reflection at the head of the betting for the Qipco British Champions Sprint. Karl Burke’s outstanding filly will take all the beating on the evidence of what we’ve seen this summer. She won the Commonwealth Cup in June over course and distance, and proved too good for The Tin Man at Haydock last time.
She’s now won seven of her nine career starts, and her trainer appears full of confidence leading into the race, saying: “I don't think anybody has really given the filly the credit she deserves. There's always been sideway glances and references to the ground - winning because it's soft and not because she's a very good filly. Good ground on Saturday would be perfect.”
So who can stop the filly completing the Commonwealth Cup-Champions Sprint double, as done by Muhaarar a year ago?
I’ve already mentioned The Tin Man’s defeat at Haydock in the Sprint Cup, and maybe hinted that I gave him little chance of reversing the placings with Quiet Reflection. I have to admit that should rain miss the Berkshire track, and the ground ride good or quicker, then James Fanshawe’s gelding could run a huge race. He has a devastating turn-of-foot, which would be all the more potent on a sounder surface. Should the ground be on the soft side of good, I cannot see him beating the filly.
Shalaa is very much the joker in the pack. His return to action was delayed due to a pelvic injury, but he proved at Ascot two weeks ago that he remains a force to be reckoned with. He was an outstanding juvenile, and his return to action was eagerly anticipated. He certainly looked in rude health, and the run would have blown away any cobwebs. The worry for me would be the short recovery time, having spent such a long period off the track. Nevertheless, Gosden was thrilled to get a prep run into the colt, who now boasts five wins from six career starts. He is without doubt a serious threat to the filly.
Henry Candy decided against risking Limato, but has a decent replacement in Twilight Son. The winner of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, he is at his best with a little juice in the ground. He was unable to live with the pace on fast ground in the July Cup, but the dual Group 1 winner should not be overlooked. He goes well fresh, and was a fast finishing runner-up to Muhaarar in this race last October. I’m not sure he has the gears that Quiet Reflection possesses, but I’d still anticipate a strong performance. He also has the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle.
The other contender I like, and possibly the each-way value in the race, is the French challenger, Signs Of Blessing. Francois Rohaut’s five-year-old continues to improve, and ran out an impressive winner of the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. He was a little too keen at Royal Ascot when just failing to hold off Twilight Son, but looked stronger at the finish last time. He’s a consistent performer, and I fancy he’ll go close.
The one I can’t fancy is Mecca’s Angel, who is stepped-up in trip for her final start. She’s been a superstar, and her run at York in the Nunthorpe was arguably one of the most devastating performances for many a year. Nevertheless, this is a furlong further, on a stiffish track, and I just can’t see her getting home.
I have to say that the betting has it about right. I think Quiet Reflection will win, and I’ll be on Signs Of Blessing each-way for a place. Despite the Limato no show, the race looks sure to be a cracker.